Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dissecting the Democrat-Gazette Opinion pages.

If I'm ever desperate for something to blog about the Dem-Gaz Opinion page comes through in a clutch. The contrived folksiness of the Editorial, the predictability of its political columnists, and the nuttiness of at least one letter means there's never a shortage of things to address.

In today's paper we get to enjoy:

1. An editorial about a topic I actually agree on, putting a stop to Senate Bill 568 and House Bill 1572 which would open the door to predatory lending. My beef though is with the reference to the grocery tax. They once again refer to it as "The Shame of Arkansas". Okay, I'd love to see the grocery tax gone, I think that's a worthy goal. But I'm tired of the paper referring to it in such dire terms. It just sounds, well, silly.

    Are we supposed to picture other states laughing at us behind our backs because we have this tax? Do our neighbors really care that much? I'm pretty sure that we have a lot of other things to be ashamed of in Arkansas. How about our low placing in U.S. rankings for percentage of citizens to finish high school or our high poverty rate? But no, our tax on groceries is "The" shame.

2. Letter writer Bobby R. Bemis says that students are being taken out of Wisconsin schools and made to protest by their teachers.  I have seen video of students interviewed at the protests saying their teachers brought them, and that they were just taking advantage of not having school. They never said they were forced. But there are many students who are freely joining the teachers, but from Mr. Bemis's letter you'd never know that.

   And his solution to this? A law restricting teachers from taking students out of class except for emergencies or extracurricular activities where permission is granted. Ha. I find it funny that conservatives decry the nanny state and the abundance of nitpicky laws and regulations and then suddenly want to pass a whole new law over one incident that they saw on a video. I'm pretty sure what he's asking for is already the way students getting out of school is handled. And unless he or anyone can produced something proving that a student was forced to protest against his/her will, I will continue to think that.

3. Mike Masterson has an article about the bill for the elimination of capital gains taxes on "new" business investments. The arguments of  bill sponsor Rep. Ed Garner make sense, but he doesn't give any examples of companies who have relocated businesses over the tax, even though he says to "ask" them. He also mentions that the DF&A didn't project increase from potential new income taxes generated from job creation. Okay, what formula should they use to project that?

I've never had a satisfactory explanation of how a government can estimate potential revenues from job creation resulting from corporate tax cuts. And if anyone reading this does, then please tell me. I'm not saying it can't be done. Unless they have ten businesses on the line just waiting for the tax cuts, how can they give a concrete figure on this? The idea makes sense, but I'd like to know how there's any way to estimate or predict businesses coming into this state. It'd be nice to know that before we pass a tax cut that has no spending cuts to accompany it.

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